Fluoride delay gets rejected

The addition of fluoride to the water supplies of Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley council areas moved a step closer with NSW Health rejecting a request by Rous Water to extend the deadline to fluoridate the local water supplies.

The request was made after a resolution was passed by Rous to see if they could delay the process in order to get further advice on the effects of fluoride being discharged into the environment from a professional environmental toxicologist. The motion was put forward by Cr Richard Staples and supported by Cr Vanessa Ekins, Cr David Yarnall and Cr Patrick Morrissey. (Crs Col Sullivan, Phil Silver and Stuart George were opposed and Cr Keith Johnson was absent.)

The knockback comes on top of legal advice that the issues of the effects of fluoride on human health and the release of fluoridated water into the environment have been adequately covered in the review of environmental factors (REF) and other supplementary documents.

But Cr Vanessa Ekins said she and other councillors were not convinced.

“We still need more technical information because the reports we were given don’t address issues of downstream impact or human health, which they are required to do by legislation under the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority). Many councillors are concerned what the effects will be... They (the Department of Health) have referred to a literature review that was done 20 years ago. We need convincing and want to see recent scientific studies about what the downstream affects will be,” Cr Ekins said. “I’ve read reports about cattle being poisoned in paddocks where fluoride has been added to the water supply and I’m concerned that it could happen here in places where we’re going to put the dosing plants.”

Rous Water general manager Kyme Lavelle said the matter will now go back to Rous council at their next meeting on April 21.

Rous Water’s deadline to fluoridate the water supplies was originally December 31, 2008, for Lismore and Richmond Valley and December 31, 2010, for Ballina. But because of Ballina’s change of heart (from not fluoridating to fluoridating) the process was put on hold to bring them all in to line. Mr Lavelle said if the REF was approved, he would expect the tendering and construction of the dosing plants to be completed by the end of February 2011.


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